The holiday season is all about celebrating, togetherness, and indulging—but doing so in moderation. We’re heading into the holiday months starting with Halloween through New Year’s. That’s nearly twelve weeks of parties full of hors d’oeuvres, treats, and alcohol. Those calories add up fast, and it’s not always so easy to burn them off again.

1 – Health Goals

Plan your weekly food intake and allow some treats into that plan. Create a tradeoff: for example, allow yourself two cookies at every holiday party but avoid the alcohol. Focus on specific attainable goals and follow through rather than a potentially harmful mindset of dropping two sizes by Valentine’s Day. 

2 – Routine

Create and stick to a regular routine of exercise and sleep as part of your health goals. Getting enough sleep has also been associated with less weight gain. Practice good sleep hygiene, like turning off electronics in the bedroom and avoiding bingeing at night. It can be tempting to cozy up and hibernate the entire time you are off from work during the holidays, and, but stick to your routines as mentioned in No. 1, and continue to exercise every day. Making exercise a daily habit won’t even feel like a chore any longer, but rather a built-in part of your day. Wearable fitness trackers are a great way to get motivated.

3 – Alcohol

So many choices: wassail, martinis, wine, rumchata, spiked eggnog … they all sound delicious, but they have little to no nutritional value and contribute to excess weight gain. Instead, try having a club soda with a lime twist to help cut calories and remain well hydrated.

4 – Portion Control

Eat a small, healthy meal before party time to help you from unconsciously snacking all night. Something full of fiber or protein are solid options that will keep you fuller for longer and help maintain a healthy weight because high protein diets are associated with greater satiety. Great options include: roasted chicken or turkey, hummus with vegetables, quinoa, lentils, or beans.

5 – Careful Indulgence

Allow yourself a small portion of something you’re craving can prevent overindulging later. But if you find you’re still craving a few more bites of your favorites, daydreaming about pleasant activities or distracting yourself with just about any activity can reduce the intensity of food cravings.

Choose the smaller salad plate instead of a tray-like one f you want to try out the scintillating mac and cheese or other rich holiday dish. Using smaller plates can actually make us feel fuller with less food, because the brain associates a big white space on the plate with less food.

6 – Don’t Stress

Trying not to overstress during the holidays can feel like exercise on its own. Unfortunately, a lot of stress can trigger increased eating and cravings, especially for sugary carbohydrates. Try to avoid emotional eating. Instead, nix the stress and allow yourself to be more present in your daily life through yoga, deep breathing, massage therapy, and meditation. Stay focused during the holidays and stick to your daily routines so that you don’t lose track of your health goals.

7 – Positive Outlook

Do what you can to remain positive. Just get back on track the next day if a bad one comes along. Don’t punish yourself for indulging or demonize certain foods or punish yourself for indulgences. Remind yourself that you can control your eating by making healthy choices and that you’re proud of achieving your goals for the day. This can reframe your relationship with food—positive expectations are associated with weight loss. While it may feel silly at times, try telling yourself at least one positive affirmation per day. A healthy mind leads to other healthy habits.

In the last several month, the famous neurologist Dr. Oliver Sacks contributed three essays reflecting on his life. If you don’t know who he is, he was portrayed by Robin Williams in the movie Awakenings. He also wrote several best seller medical essays and books documenting some of the most fascinating cases he’s seen in his practice, including The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat, Musicophilia, and Uncle Tongsten.

His last writing to the New York Times was published just a few weeks before his death, titled “Sabbath.” In it, he describes his upbringing in the orthodox jewish family and the meaning of Sabbath in one’s life.

“I find my thoughts, increasingly, not on the supernatural or spiritual, but on what is meant by living a good and worthwhile life- achieving a sense of peace within oneself. I find my thoughts drifting to the Sabbath, the day of rest, the seventh day of the week, and perhaps the seventh day of one’s life as well, when one can feel that one’s work is done, and one may, in good conscience, rest.”
In this modern life, perhaps we never feel that our work is truly done, I certainly feel that way. I have not had a true day of rest and with the cell phone, work follows me everywhere I go. With my birthday approaching in a few month and very much a middle aged person, I find myself thinking of sabbath or a day of rest.

Step away from work this weekend, and find yourself a day of rest. Get a lot of sleep, hang out with love ones, go to the beach, and take a long walk with your dog. You do not need to wait until you are dying or feel that your work here is done.

A day of rest is a gift from God.

Stay in touch.

Dr. An.

Halloween candy is difficult to resist, and you might assume that sugar is the sole reason for that. Sugar can activate reward circuits in the brain that also respond to drugs like cocaine. It is possible to build up a tolerance to and dependence on sugar. Studies have shown that sweet or fatty foods can activate pathways in the brain associated with pleasure and reward, kicking off processes that can compete with or override signals that regulate normal hunger and satiety. This sometimes causes people to overeat out of pleasure, not hunger.

How your body handles sugar

While salt, sugar, and fat are all tasty on their own, food scientists have long known they become irresistible when they come together. It’s the convergence of sugar, fat, and salt—the specific combination in many candies, Halloween and otherwise—that really activates the for pleasure eating system. When you taste a sweet food, it releases dopamine into your system. Dopamine plays a major role in the motivational component of reward-motivated behavior—and the effect on your mood is very real.

This effect can occur because you have a memory of previously experienced pleasure. Humans have complex neurologic systems where learning, memory, and pleasure somewhat congeal. Any food can spur this effect, but when you link the nostalgia and positive memories attached to Halloween candy, it’s likely to trigger an intense reaction. It can be difficult to outsmart these bodily mechanisms, though some research suggests that consistently choosing healthful foods can eventually rewire your brain to prefer them.

Your body goes to work on ingesting all that sugar and syrup it as soon as it can. Your stomach breaks down the candy and absorbs it all immediately, which causes your blood glucose to spike. As is the case with salt, too much sugar can cause water retention. As water is absorbed into your blood, your body starts to think that it’s dehydrated. You’ll feel really thirsty as a result.

The hormonal effects of eating sugar

An overlooked organ, you might not know what your pancreas even does. The pancreas is responsible for releasing insulin, which regulates blood sugar. Repeatedly overloading your blood with glucose will overtax the release of insulin. This degradation of the natural response to sugar is a risk factor for diabetes. The spike in blood sugar wreaks havoc on all kinds of hormones, including cortisol and epinephrine. Both of these hormones can send your heart racing in response.

Those hormones do more than just speed up your heart rate. Spiking your blood sugar alters the ratio of estrogen to progesterone in the body. Progesterone calms you down, while estrogen has a tendency to increase the intensity of your emotions.

Digesting all of those simple sugars and chemicals at once wasn’t easy, and natural byproduct of digestion is gas but excess gas causes bloating. General discomfort, indigestion, and flatulence are also probable side effects.

The inevitable drop in your blood glucose is bound to make you feel hungry, despite how much you’ve already eaten. You might feel sluggish, lethargic, or irritable in the process — all of which, in turn, can make you crave more candy.

Normally, when you eat a large number of calories of nutritious food, your body acknowledges those extra calories and naturally consumes less later on. When you consume sugary foods your body is still hungry for those calories later. Your body will still want the protein, vitamins, and minerals it needs.

Conclusion

The worst kind of Halloween candy is any made of pure sugar, like Skittles, Pixy Stix, Airheads, and candy corn. You might think those are less damaging options, since many are marketed as fat free, but these concentrated sweets have a dramatic effect on raising blood sugar, which over time can lead to weight gain, insulin resistance, and diabetes.

When you do have to give into temptation and give yourself a treat, try dark chocolate candy with nuts. These options at least have minor amounts of protein and antioxidants. In general, you should choose candies that contain some actual food, like chocolate, nuts, and coconut.

What is NAD+ infusion?

NAD is short for nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+). My staff calls it the “nad” infusion. I was introduced to NAD infusion by Dr. Craig Koniver (www.koniverwellness.com) who has been using nad infusion to various anti-aging purpose along with stem cell therapy.

What exactly is NAD? If you’ve taken any biology class in school, you may vaguely remember the Kreb cycle, which basically is how we make energy out of the food we eat. NAD is a part of the Kreb cycle, is a derivative of B3 vitamin, basically it is essential to energy production of the body.

Doctors initially discovered that NAD infusion had a great success with patients with schizophrenia but because it wasn’t a drug, as with many natural treatment, it never became mainstream treatment option. Then it made a resurgence when it was discovered that treatment with NAD infusion greatly reduced cravings for alcohol and opioid. There used to be few clinics in the US who offered this treatment and patients used to fly to Mexico to be treated.

NAD came into a new spot light again, thanks to Dr. Sinclair at Harvard University who discovered that NAD has potent anti-aging property and reversed aging. Read the famous “Sinclair NAD study” here

I had just finished 5 treatments of NAD infusions personally. The improvement I notice the most is my energy level. I feel great in the morning but I used to get so tired in the afternoon. Some of you know that I suffered from heart valve problem for years which was healed with stem cell therapy. But I always felt like I was never the same and could never build myself back up again regardless of how much I exercised. When the fatigue comes on in the afternoon, my resting heart rate would always be elevated by 10 to 15 beats. Since NAD treatment, my heart rate stays in the low 70s and there has been a marked increase in my energy level in the afternoon. 3 mile run on weekends at the Memorial park has also been not as painful and I can actually run most of the time vs. huffing and puffing 2/3 of the trail. I was even able to shorten my run time by 7 minutes!! I can see why this is being used for endurance athletics to give them the extra edge in their game.

Recently, I took care of a business man who had a mental break down due to high stress of handling a big project. The anxiety attack put him ER and he called me out of desperation. “I can’t stop thinking about the worse scenario that can happen, I have a constant headache, I can feel my whole neck and head pounding, I don’t know how to stop it.” After 3 treatments, he had much more calm composer, he cleaned around the house, and felt like a functioning normal person again. He also started eating again, his headache has gone away and he can think clearly now.

The treatment itself is not very comfortable. While the drip is going, it can give a very uneasy discomfort in the stomach. The discomfort can be controlled by the drip speed, and depending on the tolerance of the patient, the infusion can take anywhere from 1.5 hour to 4 hours. The very first infusion for me took 4 hours but now i can finish in less than 2 hours. Your body eventually get used to it. And, of course, my mother is about to start her first treatment this week.

There is a plethora of information on the benefits of NAD on the internet.
Here is another link to biohacker Ben greenfield’s on NAD.

Dr. An